Rediscovering the Teaching of Jesus

by Norman Perrin

Norman Perrin is the Associate Professor of New Testament at the Divinity School of the University of Chicago. He is the author of The Kingdom of God in the Teaching of Jesus and has published numerous articles and book reviews.

Published by Harper & Row, New York and Evanston, 1967. This material was prepared for Religion Online by Dick and Sue Kendall and Ted & Winnie Brock.


(ENTIRE BOOK) An attempt to establish what may be known with reasonable certainty of the teaching of Jesus, “an irreducible minimum of historical knowledge available to us at the present time” (1967). Fully appreciative of Bultmann, yet advancing beyond his work, the author opens up a new approach to understanding the significance of the teaching of Jesus.


  • Preface
  • Abbreviations and Explanations
  • Chapter 1: The Reconstruction and Interpretation of the Teaching of Jesus

    The author examines the various sources available, and cautions that the more we learn about those sources the more difficult the task seems to become. He suggests that students must do justice to the categories of first-century Judaism in terms of which the teaching was originally expressed, and must always set the teaching of Jesus in the context of the circumstances and situation of his ministry. Finally, he insists we must employ the “form-critical approach” which uses methodology arising out of the nature of the sources rather than being imposed upon them from outside.

  • Chapter 2: The Kingdom of God

    The Kingdom of God is the power of God expressed in deeds; it is that which God does wherein it becomes evident that he is king. It is not a place or community ruled by God; it is not even the abstract idea of reign or kingship of God. It is quite concretely the activity of God as king.

  • Chapter 3: Recognition and Response

    The keynote in the ‘ethical’ teaching of Jesus is that of response to the reality of God. Since all the teaching is set in the context of the proclamation of the Kingdom, it follows that the ‘ethical’ teaching is not to be considered, and indeed could not exist, apart from the challenge to recognize God eschatologically at work in the experience of men.

  • Chapter 4: Jesus and the Future

    The author discusses the Kingdom of God as a future expectation, the apocalyptic Son of man sayings, and the sayings which set a time limit to the coming of the End.

  • Chapter 5: The Significance of Knowledge of the Historical Jesus and His Teaching

    The New Testament as a whole implies that Christian faith is necessarily faith in the Christ of the Church’s proclamation, in which proclamation today historical knowledge may play a part, but as proclamation, not historical knowledge. As proclamation it helps to build the faith-image, to provide the content for a faith which ‘believes in Jesus’.

  • Annotated Bibliographies

    Nine annotated bibliographies detailing information concerning the various authors and books referred to in the text along with some other sources.